The Dublin South Poor Law Union was officially declared in 1839. The Workhouse was an extension and re-design of the pre-existing houses of industry and foundling hospital, which had been in operation as poor relief in South Dublin since 1772.The Workhouse was opened in 1840 at a cost of £10,199. It was built to house a maximum capacity of 2,000 inmates. The Dublin South Workhouse was built to accomodate people from the areas of South Dublin City, Clondalkin, Donnybrook, Palmerstown, Rathfarnham, Rathmines, Tallaght, and Whitechurch.
In 1919, the Dublin North Poor Law Union was amalgamated into the Dublin South Union. The North City Workhouse was repurposed for military use and the inmates were sent to the Dublin South Workhouse.
The site of the Dublin South Workhouse is now occupied by St James' Hospital with some of the original buildings still surviving.
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